Swiss watchdog demands shutdown of Google Street View

Switzerland's data watchdog on Friday demanded that Google immediately withdraw the "Street View" facility
Switzerland's data protection watchdog on Friday demanded that Google immediately withdraw the "Street View" facility it has started offering on its map of Switzerland.

Switzerland's data protection watchdog on Friday demanded that Google immediately withdraw the "Street View" facility it has started offering on its map of Switzerland.

Federal data protection and transparency officer Hanspeter Thuer released a statement warning that the US-based Internet giant was not respecting conditions he set to respect personal privacy in Switzerland.

Thuer said that based on public comments and his own browsing, many faces and vehicle number plates had not been covered up or were insufficiently blurred.

He "demands that Inc. immediately withdraw its online service Google concerning Switzerland," the statement said.

The Street View facility allows users to take a ground level panoramic view of some locations on , based on still photographs taken by specially-equipped vehicles.

Google recently started taking shots in Switzerland.

The online service, which began in the United States, has sparked controversy because the snapshots also inadvertently capture passers-by on camera, sometimes in embarrassing or private moments.

Thuer said he would meet representatives of Google early next week to "improve" the service and ensure that it conforms with Swiss law.

(c) 2009 AFP

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User comments

Aug 21, 2009
If you're outside, people are going to see you. If you're doing something stupid, it's your own responsibility, not google's. If you have a car, and drive it around outside, people are going to see your license plate. I don't see what the big deal people have with this is.

Aug 22, 2009
I think this service is awesome and have used it a few times myself to 'scout' out an area I'm going to that I haven't been to before. Especially for things like corner shops.
You can also check for nice places to park before you arrive.
People should be embracing this excellent service.

Aug 22, 2009

Aug 22, 2009
Google doesn't give a damn. They posted a picture of my neighborhood, and "thoughtfully" blanked the faces of two people on my street. Except...their clothes are distinctive, and anybody in the neighborhood would know who they are. Just because they are in public doesn't mean they have a right to be surveyed by anybody in the world. Supposing they were political refugees? (Which, in this case they might well have been, since they wear old-style Chinese clothes.) It isn't that Google is catching criminals, they couldn't care less who they're exposing, good, bad or indifferent.

Aug 22, 2009
I guess some folks feel better being on NSA monitors rather than us using the Google service. The NSA would never share those images with others and everything is OK.

This issue seems more political than science anyway, meh.

Aug 22, 2009
I think its more about the right not to be monitored 24/7, and not to feel that someone somewhere, whether government or corporate, is able to watch your movements.

I do realize Google street view is not about that, but at the same time, I can understand the position of those who do not wish to be seen on a given street, preserved forever, in place.

Perhaps if a degree of time-lapse was used, not much, but just enough to be able to completely edit moving people out of the picture, that would certainly help.

Aug 22, 2009
The posts on this thread are so, well, American. Let the Swiss set their standards. Switzerland is not little America.

Aug 22, 2009
And you know what Americans think? all of them? Right....How very prejudice.

Aug 23, 2009
Not all things which seem useful and harmless evolve into good things. Yes, if you aren't doing anything wrong than whats the problem of a security camera and profiling device tracking and monitering us. But to what extent is that function being utilized? Or is this just slow conditioning so the breech of rights and privacy goes unnoticed?

Aug 25, 2009
I don't think its intentional conditioning, more a case of companies attempting to roll technologies out to be innovative, before the privacy aspects are fully thought through. The problem comes, I think, where multiple companies are so busy innovating and forgetting to check for privacy invasion in the rush, that overlooking personal privacy starts to become second nature for the industry as a whole.

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